August 30, 2012

Small Pets for Kids

Filed under: Children and Pets — Dr. Amber Reed @ 4:30 pm

Allowing small children to have pets is a great way to teach them responsibility. The love and care they develop towards their pets will help them become more patient and kind.

But kids are sometimes too immature to properly take care of some small animals. Some pets may not be able to suffer the stress of over-handling.

Children need proper guidance to care for their pets. It is important that the personality of the child matches with the pet for them to play together. Here are some of the best small pets for kids:

Hermit Crab
This can prove to be a very interesting pet for a calm child. They are social, active little creatures.

Their five sets of legs allow them to quickly crawl about. They are especially active in the evenings and watching them burrow in the sand, crawl on top of rocks or investigate their surroundings is a delight for many kids.

They are not a very ‘handled’ pet as they stay in their terrariums. Just feeding them and spending a little time with them is enough. Some kids are especially amused by the chirping sound a hermit crab makes sometimes.

Fish
A fish is a great choice as a pet for small kids. Since they stay in the water, your kids will not need to handle it and can watch the fish through the glass of the tank or bowl. Having a tank full of fishes is also not a problem but care should be taken that the fish are regularly fed and the tank is kept clean.

Betta fish are particularly easy to manage. Their vibrant colors make them very appealing to small children. Betta fish come in shades of red, green, orange and violet. However, only one Betta fish per tank. They are known to fight.

Guinea Pig
Guinea pigs are a great starter pet for children ranging from five to ten years old.

Guinea pigs can weigh up to 3 pounds and are available in many colors and patterns. They can be kept in a portable enclosure where they can sleep, hide or run about. It is better to supervise your child when he wants to hold the guinea pig in his/her hands so that neither of the two gets hurt.

Hamster
Hamsters are cute, furry and extremely friendly pets to keep. They are easily manageable and can be very amusing.

It is better to get a hamster if your child is eight years of age or older. Hamsters are noisy at night and spend most of their daytime sleeping. They can become grumpy and may even bite if awakened or disturbed by poking fingers. It is better if your child is old enough to understand not to annoy the little critter too much.

Rabbit
Rabbits are good pets for small kids. They can weigh between 2 to 13 pounds and are suitable for children that are eight years and older.

A specially made enclosure can be kept in your house. Rabbits are available in many colors and sizes and may have different ear lengths. They are very cuddly, but too much cuddling can scare your pet. As they need lots of exercise, you can train your pet outdoors to exercise using a leash and collar.

May 21, 2010

Children and Cats

Filed under: cat health,Children and Pets,pet health — Dr. Amber Reed @ 6:33 pm

kitten care, children and kittensGetting a pet cat means that you are adding another member to your family.  Cats and children make great companions but you may be aware of special health concerns for children with pet cats.  A lot of times people feel cats are better pets for children than dogs but you need to take some time to ensure that the health and well being of your cat and children will not be compromised.  Always make every effort to understand the responsibilities that come with owning a cat and ensure you children understand as well.

Kids love kittens.  They’re small, fluffy, and cute but they become full grown cats very quickly.  Many irresponsible families get kittens every year and then become overburdened with the responsibilities that come with owning a cat.  Even as a kitten you need to spend lots of time grooming, playing with, and socializing your kitten so it’s not all just fun and games.  Nevertheless, when you take the commitment of cat ownership seriously, you will have a loving pet that is a central member of your family.

feline ear mitesChildren can sometimes be overly aggressive with small pets so you’ll need to teach them that cats are vulnerable.  Because cats can more easily escape from rambunctious children, they are often a better pet than dogs (for the pet’s sake, that is).  Still, you should spend some time demonstrating to your children how to handle cats and how to play with them.  Overly aggressive children may cause the cats to develop anxiety leading the cat to reciprocate the aggressive behavior.

Finally, when you get a cat you need to be aware of toxoplasmosis.  This bacterial infection can be contracted through contact with cat feces and when infants are infected they are at risk of brain damage and possibly even death.  By taking a few precautions you can protect your infants from toxoplasmosis.  Regularly clean the litter box and never allow children to play near it.  Sandboxes are a favorite place for cats to defecate so they should always be covered when they’re not in use.  As long as you maintain a clean environment and keep your children away from cat feces the risk of toxoplasmosis is very low.

May 11, 2010

Children and Dogs

Filed under: Children and Pets — Dr. Amber Reed @ 5:50 pm

In most situations, dogs and kids cohabitate very nicely.  They can quickly form loving bonds that last for many years.  A lot of us remember our first dogs very fondly; yet, because both children and dogs are unpredictable there are some behavioral issues that may arise from time to time.  Not only should you try to select a breed of dog that is suitable for children, but you also need to teach your children how to behave around dogs.

canine stress First of all, it’s important to remember that not all breeds of dogs will interact well with children and that children do not always interact well with dogs.  Medium-sized dogs with a laid back personality are generally well suited to being family pets.  Labradors and Golden Retrievers are obvious examples.  Small dogs should be avoided because children’s rough behavior may threaten small dogs and cause aggressive behavior.  Similarly, larger dogs that have traditionally been used for hunting can have a naturally more aggressive personality and may not make a good pet for children.

Most importantly, you must realize that dogs are pack animals that naturally rank members of their group according to dominance and submission.  Dogs will generally recognize their adult owners as dominant but may not show children the same respect.  Children should be taught to be direct and consistent with dogs and you need to take special care to ensure that your dog understands that he is subordinate to your children.

The vast majority of dog/child relationships are based on love and affection which is why dogs make such great pets for kids.  Still, never forget that dogs and children may not always understand each other’s behavioral cues and as the adult you need to set clear boundaries for your pets and your children.

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Disclaimer: CritterCures is an educational resource, and all information herein is strictly for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure diseases, nor is it meant to replace the (prescribed) treatment or recommendations of your veterinarian or healthcare provider. Always inform your veterinarian or healthcare provider of any products that your pet are taking, including herbal remedies and supplements.